Frequently asked questions
What is the secret of a high quality translation?
Professional translations should always be carried out by a native translator, who is professionally qualified, and with expertise in the type of text concerned. The translation should then be subjected to a rigorous correction and monitoring process. And you should allow a reasonable amount of time for the translator to work.
What is a certified translation?
Some translations need to be certified by a professional translator who is a member of a professional body. Such translations may be for presentation at a court hearing, or to accompany applications for a passport, a professional qualification, or other official paper. You should, however, always check the requirements of the particular authority under whose instructions the translation has been made. As a Chartered Linguist and member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, I am able to certify my own translations into English. I am also authorised to certify translations carried out by other translators from German, French or Spanish into English. I do not certify any other language directions.
What is Chartered Linguist (Translator)?
In the interests of the public and all those who make use of language services and under the terms of its Charter, the Chartered Institute of Linguists has the right to grant individual chartered status to professional linguists. A Chartered Linguist (Translator) is a practising translator who: exhibits the highest levels of competence, skill and professionalism, and has demonstrated his or her ongoing commitment to maintaining and developing these skills. For more information visit: http://www.iol.org.uk/Charter/cls.asp
I was one of the first in the country to be granted this award, the Chartered Institute of Linguists only recently having invited applications, following the granting of its own Royal Charter status in 2005.I no longer hold Chartered status because, due to other activities, I no longer meet the volume criteria. The status is under review and I hope to revive it in the future.
There are similar criteria for other linguists, such as Interpreters, teachers and linguists working in business and government.
How can I help to improve the quality of a translation?
There are several things you can do to help. I always suggest that clients should give me as much background information as possible about the text in question. Try not to send text while it is still in draft form. It can get complicated if you send me a different version half way through the translation work. Please try to allow enough time for me to carry out the research, do the translation, and then revise and review it. Even a short text is best left overnight for reflection.
How would you like me to send you the text?
The best way is in electronic form, preferably in Word, and sent by e-mail. If this is not possible, I can work from faxed copy, or a scanned pdf file. However this method represents an additional time requirement. Remember that I cannot quote until I have seen the original document, and I will not begin work until you have accepted my quotation.
When will I receive my translation?
As soon as is possible. I am well aware that my clients are often in a huge rush to have their translations, but to guarantee maximum quality ideally I need at least a day for each 2,000 words. Please also bear in mind that I am often already busy on another client’s work. However, I always do my best to juggle things to accommodate everyone’s requirements.
How much do you charge per page?
I do not charge by the page (after all every page is different), but by the word. A rough “per page” estimate of words in a single-spaced typed document is around 400-500. But a really closely-typed page can sometimes contain as many as 1,000 words. If you don’t know how many words are in your text, just send it to me, and ask for a no-obligation quote.
Do you meet your deadlines?
Yes, always. Once I have agreed a delivery date with you, I will return it to you by the agreed date - barring an act of God (force majeure)!
Does the price of a translation reflect the quality?
Yes and no. A translator charging low rates may well be based overseas, and not of English mother tongue, or not a qualified professional, or worse, may simply put your precious document through a machine translator. On the other hand, there are a few translators around who charge high rates that, when you look at the results, are not at all justified. My rates are pitched at a very reasonable level. Because I am a freelancer, I do not charge as much as a large agency would, but I charge enough to make a reasonable living, and to ensure that I can maintain my skills and qualifications.
Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me to get a machine translation done, and then ask a professional translator to edit it?
No. In actual fact it takes me longer to revise a translation done by a machine or performed by a non-native English translator, than it would to start from scratch. In fact I often completely retranslate. So it makes sense to send it to me to begin with.
What is a good translation?
A good translation is true to the original. Readers of a good translation will not be aware that the words they are reading were not written in their own language in the first place. It reads perfectly naturally in English.
Do you do interpreting?
No. People often get translation and interpreting confused. Translators work with the written word, and an interpreter listens to a speaker in one language and speaks it out (interprets) in another. The skills are completely different.
Is confidentiality guaranteed?
Absolutely. As a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and Chartered Linguists, I abide by the Code of Conduct issued by the Institute.
Do you do machine translation?
Do you charge VAT?
Yes. I charge VAT at the current rate applicable in the United Kingdom. I do not charge VAT to clients in the EU who are registered for VAT, or to clients outside the European Union.
Why should I use the services of a translator when there are free translator programs available on the Internet?
Just try it out for yourself. Enter a couple of paragraphs in German or Spanish into one of these translation engines, and convert it into English. A single glance is enough to tell you that such a translation could never be published and can serve only to obtain the gist of the text.
Why is it so important that a translator should be a native-speaker?
Apart from knowing the languages in which a translator works, it is absolutely essential that the translator is able to write in his or her target language in a good, flowing style. Very few have the cultural background to be able to write in a natural style in their adopted language.
Can I ask for a discount?
Yes. For very long texts, and for texts with large amounts of repeated text, I am happy to discuss reasonable discounts.
What is translation memory?
Unlike machine translation, translation memory is a CAT tool (Computer Aided Translation) which keeps a database of all the translations I carry out, and of all the specialist technical terms I have used. I can call on this database when I next translate a document for a particular client. It ensures consistency of terminology and style.
Surely someone who can speak a language can translate as well?
Not necessarily. Even someone who is completely “cradle” bilingual does not necessarily understand the subject area or how to carry out translation work.